ABOVE THE SHADOWS **** U.S.A. 2019 Dir: Claudia Myers 111 mins
Ever since the age of 12, Holly (Olivia Thirlby), has literally been invisible to the world. Suffering from middle child syndrome her whole life, she completely disappeared after her mother died. Now no one, not even her family, can see or hear her. She makes a living as a paparazzi photographer, able to get close up shots of celebrities in reputation-shattering positions. It’s during one of these secret photography sessions in a club that she runs into Shayne (Alan Ritchson), a bouncer and former MMA fighter who is the first person to see her in years and also happens to be one of the victims of her phantom photography. Once she convinces him that she’s invisible, Holly offers to help Shayne restore his reputation as a fighter. As they grow closer, Holly uses her advantages as an invisible woman to rig Shayne’s fights, but the reintroduction of famous actress and ex-wife Juliana (Megan Fox) into his life causes him to question who he would rather be with, the famous woman he lost or the invisible woman that only he can see.
Despite its supernatural premise, this film is no way a horror movie. Instead, it’s a drama about the ways that people shut themselves off as the result of grief and how it takes focusing on something other than yourself in order to snap out of it. Thirlby plays Holly as detached character just going through the motions of her situation without coming off as wooden or uninteresting. Ritchson’s character seems an unlikely match for her in every way, yet they are able to pull off the chemistry needed to root for them as a flawed but sympathetic couple trying to reconcile their past mistakes and reconnect with another human being. The MMA fights add a gritty layer to the story, yet the film is beautifully shot with soft city lighting and a perspective of the city that makes it look as abandoned and lonely as its lead characters. Nicely shot, decently acted, and well-paced, I recommend this film as a satisfying compromise on what to watching during an at-home date night or with a group of people with mixed movie tastes.
Review by Laura Smith